Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water into a small shallow bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast and sugar. Let the mixture rest for 2-3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for about five minutes, or until the mixture almost doubles in size.
In a deep mixing bowl, combine the flour and the 2 teaspoons of salt, make a well in the center and into it pour the yeast mixture, the ¼ cup of olive oil, and 2 cups of the remaining lukewarm water. Gently stir the center ingredients to gather with a large spoon, then slowly incorporate the flour and continue to beat until the ingredients are well combined. Add up to ½ cup more lukewarm water, beating it in a tablespoon or so at a tiem, and using as much as necessary to form a dough that can be gathered into a compact ball. If the dough is difficult to stir, work in the water with your fingers.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it by pressing it down, pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand and folding it back on itself. Repeat for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle it from time to time with a little flour to prevent sticking to the board.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly-oiled bowl. Drape loosely with a kitchen towel and set aside in the off oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the dough doubles in bulk. Punch the dough down with a single blow of your fist and divide it into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about 1½ inches in diameter, cover the balls with a towel and let them rest for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Drop the onions into a deep bowl and sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of the salt, turning them about with a spoon to coat them evenly. Let the onions rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, then squeeze them dry and return them to the bowl.
In a small skillet or saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until a light haze forms above it. add the pine nuts and stirring constantly, brown them lightly. Add them to the bowl of onions, along with the lamb, tomatoes, green pepper, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, tomato paste, cayenne pepper, allspice, 2 teaspoons of salt and a liberal grinding of black pepper. Knead the mixture vigorously with both hands, then beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smoot and fluffy. Taste for seasoning.
Pre-heat oven to 500°. With a pastry brush, coat 3 large baking sheets or jelly-roll pans with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each of the balls into a round about 4 inches in diameter and no more than an 1/8 of an inch thick. To make open-faced pies, spoon about ½ cup of the lamb filling mixture on the center of each round. Then, with a spatula or the back of the spoon, spread the filling to about ½ inch of the edge.
To make closed pies, spoon about ½ cup of the filling on the center of each round. Pull up the edge from 3 equally distant points to make a roughly triangular-shaped pie and pinch the dough securely together at the top.
With a metal spatula, arrange the pies on the baking sheets. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly browned.
Serve hot or at room temperature, accompanied by yoghurt of course.
Note: Grind the lamb only once. Many butchers run it through twice, which makes it too compact.
Return to Sheep's Creek Farm Lamb Recipes page.
© 1998 Ronald Florence Last modified: 10-Dec-2001 17:36:50 EST